PALAKKAD:In this age of Snapchats, WeChat, WhatsApp, and whatnot,vintage postcards and envelopes have become passe, pushed to near oblivion by digital Darwinism. But K B Baburaj of Thenkurissi in Palakkkad, has held onto a treasure trove of cards from yore.One of the startling facts about postcards is while it cost ‘quarter anna’ when it was brought out 138 years ago, today, its priced at a measly 50 paise even when the value of the rupee has soared manifold.The Centre, on the other hand, spends a pitiable Rs 2.50 to send the card to the addressee.
“In 1990, I was deputed to cover an event attended by a foreign delegation, who came to study literacy in the state. After they flew back, they started contacting me by post. They also wanted some stamps brought out by India. So, I visited various philately clubs and my interest in the collection of stamps and postal stationery grew,” said Baburaj , a photographer by profession.“Subsequently, I attended various exhibitions organised by the Postal Department in different parts of the country, including New Delhi, and began collecting postal stationery. Over 18 years ago, I purchased postal stationery from the British era at a cost of `12,000 and these are some of my prized collections,” he said.“I have five frames of postal stationery alone. Each frame has 32 rows and over 2,000 postal cards,” he told Express.
His extensive collection includes the first postal cover used in 1856 at a price of ‘one anna’ , the cover used in 1857 costing ‘half anna’, the postcard brought out by Dr Emmanuel Herman of Austria in 1869, the one brought out by the East India Company in 1879, which is half the size of the present postcard designed by Thomas De Le Rue and printed at a press in London. The first international postcard was brought out in 1879 at a price of ‘half anna’, followed by the service postcard in 1880. In 1889, a minor change was brought to the postcard and the word ‘East’ was removed.It was known as the Indian postcard henceforth. “In 1912, during the rule of King George V, the postcard was resized to the one we use today”, said Baburaj.
One of the main drawbacks of the postcard cited by critics was that it lacked secrecy. The stamps arrived 15 years before the postcards were brought by Emmanuel Herman, he said.He also had the ‘air graph’ in 1941, a type of international mail brought out in association with Kodak during the Second World War.
The letter is written, photographed and the film reels are sent to the destination where it is again processed and converted into mail. This was in vogue for only four years during the time of the war.
The inland was brought out in 1946 and was priced at 16 anna.Baburaj is also into philately and numismatics. He has in his possession stamps of 16 native kingdoms of ancient India.